News from Darfur about COVID-19 – Updated
- “Almost a quarter of the population of Sudan are going hungry as conflict, rising food prices and the coronavirus take their toll. About 9.6 million people now face severe food shortages, the highest number recorded in the country’s recent history.” The Guardian, 28th July 2020.
- “Over 12,500 people had contracted COVID-19 in the country, including 781 who died from the disease, as of 17 August.” A state of emergency was declared in North Darfur on 13th July. “The situation is likely to compound already significant humanitarian needs in North Darfur, where nearly 330,000 people are severely food insecure.” Read the OCHA Sudan Situation Report.
- “1.1 million children in Sudan are going hungry as the country faces its worst food crisis in recent years.” – Relief Web, July 8th. Patricia says “We must provide goats urgently to families, as their milk provides children with essential nutrients at a terribly difficult time. With inflation 100% as of May, the need is growing. Along with our Appeal for Soap so people can be protected from the virus, goats are needed desperately. Please will you help?“
- 466,000 bars of soap have now reached El Fasher from Khartoum on the lorry! Delays were caused because of bridge closures across the Nile due to lockdown. We have alerted the villages leaders about the collection and delivery plans. One village leader has already turned up to collect the soap! We are delighted that UNICEF has offered their help to deliver soap to some of our villages. We still need to raise more funds to pay for the soap – please donate now. Please see pictures here of the soap arriving in El Fasher:
Soap arriving in El Fasher
A Message from the Founder of Kids for Kids:
Bad news is doubly terrible when one’s worst fears materialise. I have been dreading the news that COVID-19 had reached Darfur. I received this message from our Programme Manager, Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, on 20th May:
“Elfasher town has witnessed high mortality rate among old people 50-60 years old , some showing Covid 19 like symptoms and other sudden death. The average death rate is 12 person a day . We have lost friends and neighbors. The rate is expected to increase in the coming days. Although the lockdown is announced but it is not well implemented in addition to there being no proper health measures. Today a committee was formed for investigation about the cause, whether Covid 19 or another disease. Meanwhile it is advisable to stay at home and use mask and social distancing if for any reason one goes out.”
The ‘other’ disease Salim mentions is because they have no tests. Any medical tests taken have to be sent to Khartoum. It is the same when water is tested when we drill handpumps. There are no ventilators, no oxygen in hospitals. No treatment. I think you know that we are appealing for soap. It is the only defence for villagers. In addition to deaths in El Fasher there are as many on a daily basis in Mellit – which is a large, very poor, town used by many of our villages, including ‘our’ little 9 year old’s village. (Ibrahim is of course as tall as my son Alastair, now with children of his own! I met Ibrahim and his family again in February.) In Darfur, to be old is to be over 50, and there are a large number of people with diabetes in Sudan, making them doubly vulnerable. I am worried for them all.
Please can you think of people who would help? Maybe family trusts might consider supporting the soap appeal, as it is COVID-19 that is threatening so many children? Perhaps they may consider helping even though Africa may not be what they would normally support. Might there be a way you could help to publicise our appeal? We cannot do this alone. As you will know, virtually all our normal streams of funding have dried up, from collecting tins and coffee mornings to our local street collection and all our events. Please do what you can.
Here is our Soap Appeal for you to read and share. You can also download a PDF of the appeal that you can email to friends and ask them to donate. We need your help urgently. And please click here for information on other ways you can help during the pandemic. Thank you.
- Read this Guardian Article (May 29th) about the absolutely dire situation in North Darfur. Patricia Parker saw for herself in February the lack of the most basic equipment in the Hospital in Mellit Town. There is no point in people going to hospital, and in the villages there are no doctors or nurses. The elderly dying are young, just over 50.
- Doctors and Nurses across Sudan are lacking PPE, and many are contracting Coronavirus as they work in dangerous hospital environments. Many people do not understand what is happening and are blaming medics for spreading the disease. Important news here.